Tallahassee, FL - Experienced quarterbacks and top-rated defenses headline Saturday’s showdown at Sun Life Stadium between No. 23 Florida State and No. 13 Miami, but it is anyone’s guess how those factors will play into the outcome.
“I’d sleep better if I knew how this one was going to play out,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said, following another crisp practice Wednesday. “Both sides will make plays. Their guys will make plays and you know that. Our guys will make plays. You’ve got to process the good, fix the bad and you’ve gotta make one more than they do. You’ve got to find a way to compete and make one more than they do.
“When you play a team of their caliber that’s talented and the way they’re coached, you understand it’s going to be a 60-minute ballgame.”
In the history of the rivalry between the schools, the games have often come down to the final seconds. That’s one reason Fisher likes the mental preparation the Seminoles have shown through the heaviest practice days of the week.
Bouncing around in cooler temperatures, the Seminoles worked for a little over two hours and left Fisher with a smile on his face.
“I liked it,” he said. “Miami can cause you a lot of problems. They’re a heckuva team on offense, defense and special teams, but I like our guys and what we’re doing here. We’ll fine tune it tomorrow and hopefully we’ll be ready to go, but I liked our kids’ effort, mindset and the way they went about it.”
It has been that kind of week for the Seminoles on the practice field. Now the trick is taking it to the game. Fisher and the coaching staff have been careful not to rev up the rivalry talk early in the week, choosing to spend more time on the details it will take to execute the game plan they’ve developed.
That’s a sure way not to play the game on the practice field Tuesday and Wednesday and have the tank run dry before opening kickoff.
“They’ve done a great job of that,” Fisher said. “They’re focused and attentive and they’ll start to build a little momentum. I’ve been very pleased with that part of it.”
It hasn’t hurt that left tackle Andrew Datko, who has missed the past three games with a shoulder injury, has worked with the first unit all week. As an added bonus, tailback Ty Jones also worked out as he continues to recover from an ankle sprain suffered late against Wake Forest.
Their return would provide the Seminoles with a nice emotional lift.
Fisher, who is preparing for his first game as a head coach in the storied rivalry, has always had an appreciation for the FSU-Miami series. He’s well aware of the history, including close calls, near misses and national championship implications.
He said the rivalry has stood out because of the “great players, great tradition and great competition” over a long period of time.
“It’s what college football is all about,” Fisher said.